Torn Pectoral Muscle Recovery Time: How to Speed Healing and Prevent Reinjury

What causes a pectoral muscle tear, how can you avoid it, and, if you’re currently suffering from one, what can you expect in the way of torn pectoral muscle recovery time? Read on for the answers.

When you think of muscle tears, your mind probably conjures up arm or leg injuries. But the truth is you can tear almost any muscle, including your chest muscles. While most of us probably won’t find ourselves in the type of situation that can lead to a chest muscle injury, some groups—most notably weight lifters—are actually prone to these types of muscle tears, especially tears of the pectoralis muscle. But what causes a pectoral muscle tear, how can you avoid it, and, if you’re currently suffering from one, what can you expect in the way of torn pectoral muscle recovery time?

In this article, we’re going to uncover the answers to each of these questions to help you avoid injury or speed healing of a current tear.

What Is the Pectoral Muscle?

The pectoral muscles are made up of four muscles that connect the chest wall with the upper arm bone, or humerus, and shoulder:

  • Pectoralis minor
  • Pectoralis major
  • Serratus anterior
  • Subclavius

The largest of these muscles, the pectoralis major muscle, attaches at the breastbone, or sternum; the clavicular head of the collar bone, or clavicle; and the humerus. This large muscle, which most of us typically think of as one of the pecs, plays a significant role in shoulder movement and is easily recognized by its wide fan shape.

The much smaller pectoralis minor lies under the pectoralis major and attaches to the ribs and the front of the shoulder at the scapula. This muscle aids both scapular movement and breathing.

Like the pectoralis minor, the serratus anterior attaches to both the ribs and scapula. This muscle helps support breathing and elevation of the arm and allows the arm to rotate and pull the scapula around the rib cage.

The smallest of the pectoral muscles is the subclavius, which attaches to the clavicle and first rib. This muscle is responsible for stabilizing the collarbone during arm movement and for lowering the clavicle and elevating the first rib during respiration.

Of these four muscles, the one most likely to become injured is the pectoralis major muscle.

Types of Pectoralis Major Muscle Tears

Under the right circumstances—more on that in a moment—both the pectoralis major muscle and the pectoralis major tendon are susceptible to injury. Depending on the severity of a pectoralis major rupture, a partial or complete tear may result. However, tears of the pectoralis major muscle are classified as one of four types:

  • Type 1: With type 1 tears, the pectoralis major tendon pulls away from the humerus.
  • Type 2: With type 2 tears, the rupture occurs at the muscle-tendon junction—the point where the muscle begins to transition to tendon.
  • Type 3: With type 3 tears, the pectoralis major muscle rupture occurs entirely within the muscle belly.
  • Type 4: On the opposite end of the spectrum is the type 4 tear, in which the muscle pulls away from the sternum.

While partial tears of the pectoral muscles do occur, complete ruptures, in which either the muscle or tendon tears away from bone, are more common.

Now, how do you go about injuring your chest muscles?

Torn Pectoral Muscles: Causes and Symptoms

It turns out that what used to be a rather rare injury is becoming increasingly more common. In fact, studies have found that over three quarters of reported cases of torn pectoral muscles have occurred during the past 20 years alone.

And the cause of these injuries?

While pectoral muscle injuries can be the result of trauma, they’re most commonly seen as a consequence of overuse and are especially associated with weight training.

And not just any weight training, but the bench press—one of the most popular exercises among weight lifters.

Because the bench press requires a huge amount of force from the pectoralis major muscles, any tension or weakness in the muscles, or even steroid use, can impact their ability to perform the exercise.

However, the muscles don’t tend to rupture without warning. On the contrary, they usually feel tight or begin to spasm. But because many weight lifters are trained to push through the pain, they go beyond their limits, taxing the pectoralis beyond its breaking point.

And the result is sudden pain and a tearing sensation that many describe as feeling like the muscle has unzipped itself. In addition, depending on the severity of the tear, there may also be loss of strength, swelling, dark bruising throughout the affected chest and armpit area, and a bunching up under the skin where the muscle has retracted.

Pectoral Muscle Tear Treatment

If you’ve experienced a pectoralis major tear, treatment will depend on whether you have a complete or partial tear.

If the pectoralis tendon or muscle has completely torn away from its attachment—and you’re an athlete or individual who wishes to return to vigorous activity—your best bet for achieving your previous level of functioning is opting for surgical repair.

If you suffer a partial tear of the muscle belly, you’ll likely be able to care for the injury yourself. However, following an appropriate treatment protocol is the surest way to ensure the muscle heals properly.

So after you’ve had the injury examined to make sure surgical treatment isn’t necessary, it’s important to apply ice to the area for 10 to 15 minutes every few hours for 36 to 48 hours to reduce swelling and bruising. Then, when the acute pain has passed, it’s time to start working the muscle.

Exercise

When you’ve experienced a pectoral muscle tear, the best way to minimize scar tissue formation and maximize function is by focusing on a progressive program of stretching and strengthening.

While rest is extremely important during the acute phase of any muscle injury, resting for too long can actually be counterproductive. This is because an injured muscle begins to lay down scar tissue as it attempts to repair itself. Although scar tissue is better than nothing, it’s stiff and inflexible when compared with muscle tissue.

However, if we begin stretching and strengthening as soon as possible, we encourage the muscle to instead lay down new muscle fibers.

So when you begin working with your muscle injury, use the following as a guideline:

  • Warm up. Before you begin any stretching or strengthening exercises, first apply a hot pack to the injured area for 10 to 15 minutes. This will get blood flowing through the area, which will make the muscle more elastic and responsive to your rehab protocol.
  • Begin range of motion. Begin slowly moving your injured arm through a wider and wider range of motion. If pain level permits, continue this movement until you achieve a full range of motion.
  • Begin stretching exercises. Actively stretch the injured arm by holding on to a doorway hinge and rotating the hips away or by twisting at the waist and extending the injured arm out behind you. Do this for 10 to 15 seconds 2 to 3 times.
  • Begin strengthening exercises. As soon as pain level permits, choose an exercise that directly works the injured area. Beginning with just your own body weight, perform 2 to 3 sets for 15 to 20 repetitions. Progress the next day—or as quickly as your pain level permits—to using light weights for the same amount of sets and repetitions. (While resistance bands are perfect for rehabbing a muscle injury, weight lifters who originally injured themselves bench pressing may choose to treat their injury using the same exercise—and similar guidelines.) Gradually increase weights as tolerated over the next few days, using your pain level and ability to perform the exercise with proper form as a guide.

But, remember, there’s a trick to ensuring you’re rehabbing the muscle and not reinjuring it.

What is it?

Listening to your body.

After all, unless you were involved in a traumatic accident, chances are you tore your pectoral muscle by not listening to your body. In other words, you ignored the tightness or spasm or whatever and pushed through the pain.

Don’t do that.

Instead, regardless of whether you’re stretching or strengthening, pay attention to your pain. If it rises above the level of discomfort, stop what you’re doing and rest or take it down a notch.

Diet

Believe it or not, the extent of scar tissue you develop after a muscle injury is partly related to the type of diet you eat. This is because chronic inflammation contributes to both scar tissue formation and how well your body is able to perform muscle protein synthesis.

Diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fat are known to trigger inflammation, but diets that emphasize fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids can actually reduce harmful levels of inflammation.

Vitamin D has also been found to decrease inflammation and increase muscle protein synthesis. What’s more, it’s been shown to increase the number and quantity of fast-twitch muscle fibers—special cells involved in the production of powerful movements.

Amino Acids

All the protein in the body is made up of amino acids—the building blocks of life. Yet, there are nine amino acids, the essential amino acids, we must obtain from our diet.

While amino acids can be obtained by simply eating more protein, muscle growth can be further enhanced by supplementing with a high-quality essential amino acid supplement.

Types of Pectoral Muscle Tears

Torn Pectoral Muscle Recovery Time

With proper treatment, a pectoralis muscle tear should heal very well. However, depending on the severity of the injury, method of treatment used, and diligence with therapy, full recovery can take several months to a year.

In the case of complete muscle or tendon ruptures requiring surgery, it may take 6 to 8 months before you’re able to participate in normal activities. And it may take another year before your strength has fully returned.

For tears of the muscle belly, daily stretching and strengthening following the protocol mentioned above can have you back up and running within as little as 2 months.

And, of course, supplementing your therapy with a healthy diet and amino acids can go a long way toward reducing your recovery time.

How to Avoid a Pectoral Muscle Tear

While some traumas are unavoidable, there are certain things you can do to reduce your chance of having a pectoralis muscle injury.

  • Watch your form. If you’re bench pressing, avoid flaring your elbows. This technique, which some weight lifters recommended for increasing pec load and thus muscle growth, is actually a recipe for a pec tear. Instead, lower the bar to the base of the breastbone, keep the elbows in and forearms at right angles to the bar, and imagine you’re pulling the bar apart.
  • Don’t take steroids. Even with their known dangers, some weight lifters continue to use steroids. However, aside from their potential deleterious effects on the heart, liver, bones, and more, steroids can cause your muscles to outgrow their attachments, which greatly increases the risk of a rupture.
  • Eat well. Don’t wait until an injury occurs to eat a healthy diet. By focusing on healthy foods all year round, you’ll be supplying your body with the nutrition it needs to keep itself naturally strong.
  • Take amino acids. Like a good diet, amino acids aren’t just for treating injuries. They can also encourage healthy muscle growth and improved strength.

If you’ve experienced a pectoral muscle injury but aren’t seeing results with conservative treatment, don’t hesitate to speak with a qualified health care professional about further testing.

The 3 Muscle Fiber Types and How to Support Them

Learn about the three muscle fiber types in the body and what kinds of medical conditions can afflict them. Also discover which muscles are out of your control, and which can be built up and improved with targeted exercise, proper supplementation, and a willingness to put them to work. 

The human body has well over 600 distinct muscles that control just about every function we perform, from our motor skills to blinking to breathing. Each muscle contains a unique ratio of muscle fiber types that defines its use and purpose. These muscle fiber types change during human growth and development, and also in cases of neuromuscular disease and dysfunction. Let’s review the various types of muscle fibers in the body, what weakens them, what strengthens them, and what you can do to influence and benefit your own muscle growth.

What Are Muscles? The Basics

The word muscle comes from the Latin word musculus, which translates to “little mouse.” Muscle cells are made up of protein filaments (myosin and actin) that contract by sliding past one another, causing the cell itself to bunch and then lengthen back and forth. Muscles pump our blood, transport our food through the digestive tract (peristalsis), and allow us to bend, walk, reach, and move throughout the world.

There are three types of muscles: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal (or striated). These three can be classified as either voluntary or involuntary muscles. Skeletal muscle fibers can be further classified into fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. For further specifics, read on.

Muscle Fiber Types

Here are the types of muscle fibers currently at work in your body.

1. Cardiac Muscle Fiber

The most specialized of the bunch, cardiac muscle fibers control cardiac contractions (your heartbeat).

Cardiac muscle (myocardium) is an “involuntary” muscle that is found exclusively in the heart. It contracts on its own, usually regularly, except in cases of skipped or extra beats (palpitations), which are interruptions to the heart’s rhythm that are common among people of all ages and all health conditions, though sometimes they are caused by outside influences such as fatigue, stress, or caffeine or alcohol consumption.

Cardiac muscle is also known as a “striated” muscle because it is made up of sarcomeres, the basic structural unit of the muscle. Sarcomeres are divided into bands of filaments made of myosin or actin (otherwise known as myofibrils, the elongated contractile threads in muscle cells). These parallel bundles appear as stripes under a microscope, hence the word striated, which can also refer to anything marked with striations like scratches, grooves, or channels in a parallel series, such as the furrows and lines in rock walls.

Striated muscles contract and relax in quick bursts, while smooth muscles maintain prolonged and nearly permanent contractions.

2. Smooth Muscle Fiber

The other “involuntary” muscle type is smooth muscle. Smooth muscle fibers are those that apply pressure in the blood vessels and organs such as the bladder, uterus, intestines, esophagus, stomach, bronchi, urethra, and the arrector pili (small muscles that contract to make each of your hairs stand on end).

Just as with your heart muscle, you cannot consciously control these muscles. They act on a deeper physiological authority.

3. Skeletal Muscle Fiber

Skeletal muscles are attached to your skeleton and are “voluntary” muscles because under normal circumstances you can control them. These muscles are also striated and are enveloped in three layers of connective tissue (mysia) that wrap around and enclose entire muscles and also compartmentalize the fibers within.

The outermost layer of the mysia is called the “epimysium,” which allows for contractions, provides structure, and isolates the skeletal muscles from surrounding organs. The innermost layer is the “endomysium,” which surrounds each muscle fiber. The middling layer is the “perimysium,” which wraps specific groups of muscle fibers to form a “fascicle” or bundle. These divisions allow for precision of movement, especially in the limbs, so that the nervous system can trigger isolated muscle fiber subsets.

A person’s body is made up of between 36% (women) and 42% (men) skeletal muscle mass. Each of these muscles is connected to blood vessels that supply oxygen, nourishment, and waste removal. However, there is further distinction among skeletal muscle fiber types.

  • Type I, slow-twitch: Also known as “red” muscle, this type of muscle fiber is full of capillaries and myoglobin (heme protein that stores and carries oxygen). Because they can hold more oxygen, slow-twitch muscle fibers contract for longer periods of time, and can be further developed through high-intensity endurance training.
  • Type II, fast-twitch: Fast-twitch muscles contract powerfully but in shorter bursts (think of the difference between a marathon runner and a sprinter). There are three subtypes of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
    • Type IIa fibers: Quick-firing and more powerful than type I fibers, these fibers are used in heavy weight lifting and sprinting. They also produce lactic acid (more on this in the exercise section below).
    • Type IIx fibers: More powerful than type IIa fibers, type IIx fibers are nevertheless more energy inefficient, and only useful in instances of very short duration. They are sometimes called “couch potato” muscle fibers, available even to those who are sedentary for use in an emergency (as in the need to run away from a threat or lift something critical to save a loved one from being crushed).
    • Type IIb fibers: This is the “white” muscle that has the least density of myoglobin and therefore relies principally on bloodless anaerobic metabolism.

The fast-twitch muscle fibers have the most potential to grow and develop as you work out and exercise, but before we discuss how to better build muscle, let’s quickly cover what can afflict the various muscle fiber types.

What Are Muscles? The Basics

Muscle Fiber Types and Neuromuscular Diseases

There are certain afflictions of the musculature that are caused by functional defects either through an indirect disruption of the nervous system’s communications or a form of muscle pathology at the cellular level. What follows is not a complete list of neuromuscular diseases, but it is an indication of the types of diseases that are largely debilitating, as they can lead to wasting and muscle atrophy.

  • Muscular dystrophies: These diseases (including Duchenne muscular dystrophy, congenital muscular dystrophies, limb-girdle muscular dystrophies and more) bring about muscle wasting due to muscle fiber necrosis. Certain genetic mutations cause a change to both the quality and the force production of type I and type II muscle fibers. The result of this dysfunction is apoptosis (cell death) and necrosis (organ death).
  • SarcopeniaSkeletal muscle loss due to aging is known as sarcopenia, and often leads to difficulty walking and increased skeletal weakness. This is mostly characterized by a loss of cells related to fast type II muscle fibers, but slow muscle fibers (type I) may experience a loss of strength as well.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, this neurodegenerative condition is fatal. It involves the degeneration and loss of motor neurons in the brain stem and spinal cord resulting in a rapid decrease of motor function, muscle atrophy, and eventual death. The exact cause of this condition is unknown but believed to stem from multiple factors including aging, lifestyle, environmental exposures, and genetic predisposition.

Muscle Fiber Types and Exercise

Diseases of the musculature are often incurable, but that is all the more reason to value and prioritize healthy, functional muscles as long as you have them. Exercise can increase the growth (not the number) of fast-twitch fibers and help strengthen fatigue-resistant fast fibers.

So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of what workouts target which muscle fiber types and tips on what you can do to better support muscle function.

Aerobic Exercise and Slow-Twitch Fibers

It’s widely known that exercise helps increase muscle and bone strength and can improve one’s balance, motor skills, and fitness. Aerobic exercise entails lower levels of exertion over longer periods of time. Examples include the classic marathon, but also activities like walking, hiking, jogging, running, spinning, swimming, dancing, kickboxing, cross-country skiing, and the use of cardio machines.

From the Greek aēr meaning “air” and bios meaning “life,” aerobic indicates exercises intended to utilize free oxygen and improve the body’s efficiency at absorbing and transporting that oxygen. These athletic events use a far higher amount of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which fuel themselves with a mix of carbs, protein, and fat, but with a low-glycolytic and high-oxidative capacity (lower use of quickly depleted sugar energy from carbs, higher use of longer-term fuel from fat stores for muscle contractions).

Aerobic workouts utilizing slow-twitch muscle fibers consume large amounts of oxygen but produce very little lactic acid (which contributes to delayed onset muscle soreness).

Bodybuilding, Hypertrophy, and Fast-Twitch Fibers

One of the most apparent effects of anaerobic exercise (activity that is either absent of or not targeted towards oxygen use) is muscle hypertrophy, meaning muscle increase and bodybuilding. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are largely used for short, intense bursts of energy, like sprinting, jumping, and weight lifting. These actions rely on glucose (sugar) or ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for energy, and consume very little fat, protein, or oxygen, but produce a lot of lactic acid as a result.

Lactic acid becomes an issue not only in later muscle soreness, but also in inhibiting ATP generation. Intense anaerobic activity also redistributes potassium ions within the muscle, which interrupts water and nutrient transport as potassium is an electrolyte. The lack of sufficient potassium can lead to muscle cramps if levels are off-balance.

Furthermore, anaerobic strength training exercises cause microtears in the muscle, tears which do lead to increased muscle mass when they are repaired, but also cause pain and sometimes a delay in training if the repair takes too long.

As a general rule, men find muscle-building easier to achieve than women thanks to the growth hormone advantage of having more testosterone, but every bodybuilder experiences the same struggles when it comes to increasing and maintaining type II fiber growth in their muscles. There are ways to boost your advantage.

Muscle Fiber Types and Exercise

Amino Acids, Lactic Acid, and Muscle Support

Not all physical activity exists in a binary world between aerobic and anaerobic, some (like rock climbing or soccer) require both. How can you naturally support both types of muscle fiber in each individual muscle for comprehensive coverage during your workout? Here’s how.

1. Amino Acids

Improving amino acid utilization has been found to help attenuate sarcopenia, in a sense reverse the effects of aging and atrophy on human muscles. Moreover, when it comes to building new muscle cells, essential amino acid support (including the branched-chain amino acids known well among bodybuilders) is crucial—if you lack any one of the necessary nine aminos, your body may catabolize (cannibalize) healthy muscle tissue to make up for what it needs.

The essential amino acids required to repair and build new muscle include:

  • Histidine: Important in reducing inflammation and protecting the myelin sheathing that keeps the central nervous system operational.
  • Isoleucine: One of the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), isoleucine is needed in wound-healing, energy utilization in the muscles, and recovery.
  • Leucine: Another BCAA, leucine assists directly in protein synthesis and tissue repair when it comes to muscle building.
  • Lysine: Important in protein creation and in calcium absorption for strong bones to match your strong skeletal muscles.
  • Methionine: A precursor for protein synthesis, methionine also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic abilities.
  • Phenylalanine: Necessary as a precursor to the amino acid tyrosine, which helps moderate thyroid hormones and chemicals including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
  • Threonine: An agent of the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, threonine is also a precursor of both serine and glycine, needed for the muscle tissue, collagen, and elastin creation necessary for supple connective tissues like our blood vessels and tendons.
  • Tryptophan: A precursor to serotonin, the “happy hormone” that is also needed for proper mood regulation, digestion, and the balance between protein breakdown and synthesis in the body.
  • Valine: The final BCAA, valine is needed for muscle metabolism, tissue repair, and blood sugar control.

When supplementing with amino acids, don’t just stop at BCAAs, because an imbalance of the nine essential amino acids (EAAs) can be counterproductive if your body has to rip those missing aminos from other cells.

2. Electrolytes

Here are a few proven helpers for cutting down on lactic acid buildup and increasing your workout potential.

  • Potassium: Necessary for transmitting nerve signals and regulating muscle contractions, potassium helps you avoid muscle cramps.
  • Magnesium: In clinical studies, magnesium supplementation has been shown to increase athletic performance by way of lowering lactic acid levels.
  • Calcium: Research reveals that calcium taken before workouts can help prolong endurance and increase bone strength.

Drinking orange juice before a workout has also been shown to help lower levels of lactic acid and improve physical performance, but more on that below.

3. Essential Vitamins

Don’t miss out on these key vitamins for workouts and muscle fiber support.

  • Vitamin C: Found easily in orange juice and citrus fruits and a valuable antioxidant for the immune system, vitamin C helps reduce lactic acid and supports collagen production necessary for the repair of connective tissue.
  • Vitamin D: The most relevant uses of vitamin D for muscle health is first that it helps boost calcium absorption, and second that it plays an independent role in muscle protein synthesis.
  • Vitamin E: Often found in beauty products to enhance the suppleness of skin, vitamin E is also an antioxidant that cuts down on free radical damage and inflammation due to oxidative stress. Both skills are useful for workout recovery and muscle building.

Amino Acids, Lactic Acid and Muscle Support

Fuel That Fiber

When it comes to muscle fibers, there are many types at work in your body all the time in an automatic capacity. The muscle fiber types you have control over are the voluntary ones, your skeletal muscles that can be built up and improved by how you exercise and how you supplement. We encourage you to take advantage of the miracle that is a healthy and functioning musculature and treat your muscles well by giving them the fuel and purpose they need.

Shoulder Blade Pain: Potential Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Learn about the potential causes of shoulder blade pain, the underlying medical conditions it could be a symptom of (from injury to cancer to heart attack), when you should see a doctor, and how you can treat and prevent this pain going forward.

If you’re experiencing shoulder blade pain, it’s understandable that you’re concerned. Back pain in an unreachable place like your upper spine, shoulder blades, or shoulder joint could be an indication that there’s something wrong with your skeletal structure, or that you may be having a heart attack. The following article details the potential causes of pain in the area of the upper back and shoulder blades.

The Composition of the Shoulder Blade Area

Your upper back and shoulder area is a busy location in the body, home to vital arteries, your spinal cord, and your lower respiratory tract. Here are the details of the anatomy surrounding your shoulder blades.

  • The shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint): The shoulder is the meeting place of the scapula (the shoulder bone, shoulder blade, or wing bone) and the humerus (the upper arm bone). It’s a ball-and-socket, rotating joint in close connection with the clavicle (collar bone) and the rib cage. One common cause of pain in this area is a dislocation of the joint.
  • The rotator cuff: This is the common name for the group of tendons and muscles that stabilize the bones of the shoulder. Shoulder injuries involving the rotator cuff often require surgery and physical therapy to regain range of motion.
  • Shoulder muscles: The teres major muscles (which attach the shoulder blades to the top of the arm bone) and deltoid muscle (which covers three sides of the shoulder joint like a cap sleeve) are also in the shoulder area and provide support for the joint as well as the ability to move the arm in full rotation.
  • Chest and neck muscles: These are the serratus anterior, subclavius, pectoralis minor, sternocleidomastoid, and levator scapulae muscles. These muscles attach the ribs, sternum, and cervical vertebrae to the greater shoulder area.
  • Back muscles: The rhomboid major and minor muscles (interconnected), the trapezius, the levator scapulae, and the latissimus dorsi muscles further connect your cervical vertebra and the occipital bone (skull) to the shoulder area.
  • Upper organs: Your lungs, heart, aorta, subclavian artery, and more all exist in the upper region of your thorax (chest) and could be possible reasons for pain in the area.

All of that along with bundles of nerves, lymph nodes, and blood vessels can make identifying shoulder pain both difficult and in some cases vitally important.

The Composition of the Shoulder Blade Area

Possible Causes of Shoulder Blade Pain

Pain within the body is not as simple to identify as external pain you can see the direct cause of. There is a phenomenon known as referred pain, meaning that pain you feel in or between your shoulder blades could be stemming from a different region of the body but showing up in the nerve ending in your upper back.

Shoulder blade pain is known as interscapular pain and could consist of any sensation from persistent discomfort to aching, soreness, or shooting pain in the area. Often this pain is the culprit of a pinched nerve or muscle (maybe you slept wrong and have to deal with shoulder and neck pain for a few days), or it could be something much more serious. Potential causes include:

  • Poor posture: Sitting slumped at a desk could cause neck, shoulder blade, or upper back pain. Left unchecked it could lead to what’s known as a Dowager’s hump at the upper back/base of the neck and chronic pain.
  • Scapulothoracic bursitis: Bursa sacs exist between certain tendons, bone joints, and muscles, including the shoulder blades, and can become irritated, inflamed, and painful, causing this overuse injury (also known as snapping scapula syndrome).
  • Nerve compression: A nerve that’s been pinched and has yet to recover can cause persistent shoulder pain.
  • Muscle strains or tears: Exercising, lifting, or playing sports like tennis can cause pain in the shoulder, with rotator cuff tears being an all-too-common occurrence in sports medicine.
  • Acid reflux: Stomach acid that flows up into the esophagus can cause burning pain in the upper chest region that may read as pain near the back and shoulder blades.
  • Scoliosis: Often manifesting around the time of puberty, scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that may cause shoulder blade pain that leads to a diagnosis.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Degenerating disks or an injured, bulging, or herniated disk in the spine could be felt in the upper shoulder region.
  • Spinal stenosis: This is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal cavity and cord.
  • Osteoarthritis: Arthritis of the joints in your spine, ribs, neck, or shoulder could cause chronic pain around your shoulder blades.
  • Gallstone: The pain that occurs in your gall bladder when obstructed by a gallstone occurs below your liver in the upper right part of your abdomen and may radiate pain to your upper back. Nausea often accompanies this condition.
  • Fibromyalgia: This is a full-body condition that is still not fully understood but involves aching and fatigue surrounding multiple joints, including those in the upper back. It is similar to myofascial pain syndrome in which certain trigger points can cause pain in other parts of the body.
  • Cancers: Lymphomas, lung cancer, liver cancer, mesothelioma, esophageal cancer, bone cancers, and breast cancer could all cause perceived shoulder blade pain.
  • Heart attackLeft shoulder blade pain could be a sign of a heart attack, as could pain in the arm on the left side of the body. This pain may be accompanied by shortness of breath and chest pain, but not always, especially among women. A suspected heart attack or any sort of heart condition (like an aortic dissection, a rupture or a pulmonary embolism in the lung) requires immediate medical attention to diagnose and treat.

Possible Causes of Shoulder Blade Pain

How to Treat Shoulder Blade Pain

Before we get to home remedies and over-the-counter solutions, if you have a sharp pain or severe pain you can’t identify, you should see a doctor right away. There are some life-threatening potential causes of pain in this area of the body, so especially if you have accompanying symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, or other dangerous physical symptoms like swelling legs, loss of vision, fever, excessive sweating, lightheadedness, fainting, irregular heartbeat, difficulty speaking, coughing up blood, or paralysis, seek immediate professional medical care.

However, if the pain you’re feeling is a result of injury or a normal ache and not severe enough to require a doctor or physical therapist, here are some DIY solutions for shoulder blade pain.

  • Muscle support supplements: If you have a muscle injury, the best way to speed up healing naturally is to choose amino acid supplements before turning to pain medications. Muscle repair requires new protein synthesis, and new protein synthesis cannot be done without all nine of the essential amino acids that create new muscle cells.
  • Stretching: Yoga and other stretching techniques can aid with pain relief, alleviate stiffening, and help you avoid future injuries. To start with a simple stretch, cross one arm over your chest, use the other to pull your elbow closer to your ribcage, and hold for at least 10 seconds.
  • Exercise: Once you’re stretched and limber, exercise can not only help loosen your muscles but also strengthen your back and shoulders to avoid future issues. Pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups can all benefit this area.
  • Rest: Proper rest helps one recover from injuries, and ensuring that you have supportive pillows and mattresses can help prevent shoulder and back pain going forward.
  • Hot or cold compression: For a muscle strain in this area, icing or applying a heating pad can help accelerate healing and relieve pain.
  • Massage or physical therapy: For a pinched nerve or aches and pains in your upper back, a session with a masseuse or licensed physical therapist could help unkink your shoulders quickly, as in within an hour.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (Motrin IB and Advil) or a steroid injection from a doctor could help relieve pain as well. For more extreme injuries such as a rotator cuff tear, surgery may be required, and a doctor would advise that only if appropriate. Luckily, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 90% of those who experience upper back and shoulder blade pain are restored by nonsurgical options like exercise, rest, and time.

How to Treat Shoulder Blade Pain

Avoiding Shoulder Blade Pain

While there are some dangerous injuries and conditions that can be felt around the shoulder blade, most of the aches experienced there can not only be cured but also avoided. Practice good posture, avoid lifting heavy items if at all possible, stretch regularly each morning and especially before workouts or sporting, and try not to sit too long even if you have an office job—standing and stretching just once an hour, or taking a trip to the water cooler, can help you avoid shoulder blade pain before it ever comes around again.

Enlarged Liver: Symptoms, Causes, Complications and Cures

Discover the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for an enlarged liver, how to best avoid liver damage, and when to seek professional medical care. The liver is the top detox organ in the body with a unique ability to heal and regenerate…if you stop the danger in time.

An enlarged liver, also known as hepatomegaly, is a dangerous threat to your health. To find out what conditions cause the liver to enlarge and how you can reverse this damage before it becomes critical, read on.

What Is an Enlarged Liver?

The liver is located on the body’s right side in the upper area of the torso. It’s the top detox organ we’ve got, responsible for digesting fats, storing sugar (glucose) for energy, fighting infections, synthesizing hormones and proteins, regulating blood clotting, and, of course, breaking down and removing toxins. Even more impressive, the liver (unlike any other internal organ) can heal and regenerate, but nevertheless it can sometimes become damaged beyond repair. If the liver is enlarged beyond its normal size, that damage is already happening.

An enlarged liver could be an indication of liver disease, cancer, an infection, a genetic disease, abnormal blood vessels, or poisoning. Knowing the cause of an enlarged liver is imperative to reverse the damage. A doctor may order blood tests, specific liver function tests, conduct a physical examination, order a CT scan, or perform a liver biopsy to diagnose the issue and identify possible causes. The first step, however, is recognizing the symptoms of an enlarged liver.

The Symptoms of an Enlarged Liver

Unfortunately, the early stages of liver damage don’t present with many or sometimes any symptoms. The signs of liver problems arise when the damage has progressed to a dangerous level, and that phase includes symptoms such as:

  • Upper-right abdominal pain
  • Muscle aches and fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Unexplained itching
  • Easy bruising
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and sudden weight loss
  • Swelling of the limbs or torso (edema and ascites)

Once your liver shows signs of distress, the first priority is to discover what’s causing an enlarged liver so it can be treated.

What Is an Enlarged Liver?

Common Causes of an Enlarged Liver

Here are some of the medical conditions that may be behind an enlarged liver.

  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD): Alcoholic liver disease is brought on by fatty buildup caused by excessive and/or long-term alcohol use.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): Fatty buildup in the liver that is not due to alcohol use may be caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, genetic predisposition, or some/all of the above.
  • Gaucher’s disease: This disorder causes fatty buildup in the liver unrelated to alcohol consumption or lifestyle factors.
  • BuddChiari syndrome: An extremely rare condition, Budd-Chiari syndrome causes blockage in the veins that drain the liver. (Congestive heart failure can also cause this sort of blockage and backup in the hepatic veins.)
  • Bile duct obstruction: A blockage in the bile duct can trigger liver backup and congestion.
  • Viral hepatitis: Usually due to hepatitis A, B, or C infections.
  • Toxic hepatitis: This is hepatitis brought on by poisoning (the most common cause of overdose in the United States is due to over-the-counter acetaminophen, i.e., Tylenol).
  • Cirrhosis: An accumulation of scar tissue (fibrosis) can result in cirrhosis, which is permanent liver damage.
  • Liver cancer: Cancer that has either originated in or metastasized to the liver.
  • Blood cancer: Blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can also lead to an enlarged liver.
  • Liver tumors or cysts: These growths inside the liver, whether benign or the result of hepatocellular carcinoma, can cause the liver to enlarge.
  • Wilson’s diseaseThis condition causes copper to build up in the liver.
  • Hemochromatosis: A buildup of iron in the liver.

Conditions such as autoimmune disorders, obesity, sickle cell disease, HIV/AIDS, or inflammatory bowel disease can increase your risk factors for an enlarged liver.

Complications Associated with Enlarged Liver

A healthy liver is also known as a homogeneous liver, a liver that is reddish-brown, smooth, firm, and of normal size. Abnormal liver size coupled with lumpiness and a sickly color typifies a heterogeneous liver. A liver in this damaged state can lead to even further complications. When this vital organ is out of commission, you’re more vulnerable to opportunistic infection and health troubles including:

  • Portal hypertension (high blood pressure in the veins that surround the liver, esophagus, and stomach)
  • The spread of cancer or infection
  • Liver cirrhosis and/or liver failure
  • Hepatic encephalopathy (a brain disorder)

Seek and adhere strictly to medical advice to hopefully avoid these complications.

Common Causes of an Enlarged Liver

Treatments for Enlarged Liver

The treatment for enlarged liver depends largely on the underlying cause. For example, if the liver is enlarged due to cancer, the first priority is to eradicate the cancer. If it’s due to a curable infection, the solution may be a round of antibiotics. If it’s the result of an incurable infection like hepatitis C, the treatment is to manage that condition as well as possible. Liver enlargement due to alcoholic or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease requires sobriety and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. So on and so forth depending on the cause of the damage—the best way to treat the liver is to give the organ enough space and supplies to heal itself.

Preventing Enlarged Liver

Assuming it is in your power to prevent an enlarged liver, the best practices you can follow to keep the liver healthy include:

  • Abstaining from drugs, alcohol, and unnecessary over-the-counter medications
  • Eating a healthy diet that keeps your liver clean and functioning
  • Performing regular exercises—walking, running, sporting, strength training, or aerobic exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity
  • Supplementing with important nutrients, from detox helpers like milk thistle to full-body aids like essential amino acids with all three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are proven to be critical in regenerating liver tissue

Treatments for Enlarged Liver

Give Love to Your Liver

An oversized, enlarged liver is a dangerous symptom of an underlying medical condition. Take care of yourself, don’t hesitate to see a doctor if anything in your health feels amiss, and remember that when it comes to your liver, you have an enormous opportunity to halt and reverse the damage being done. We encourage you to do everything you can to avoid missing that window of opportunity.

The NASH Diet: Foods to Help Reverse Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis and Fatty Liver Disease

The NASH diet can help you reverse nonalcoholic fatty liver disease naturally and restore your liver to optimal performance. Discover the scientific data behind foods for NASH, plus proven natural remedies such as amino acid supplementation that can help your liver recover faster.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the accumulation of fat in the liver, buildup which interrupts the organ’s function and causes liver damage that may ultimately be irreversible without treatment. The extreme conclusion of this fatty buildup is known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is fat accumulation plus inflammation and liver cell damage that includes scarring (fibrosis). Unchecked, fibrosis can escalate to cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, and premature death. The NASH diet can help naturally halt and reverse this process.

The Causes, Symptoms, and Consequences of NASH

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis are diagnostically considered manifestations of metabolic syndrome, closely linked with other conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

This is because NASH and its associated diseases are caused largely by poor diet, lack of exercise, and excessive body weight (distinct from alcoholic fatty liver disease which is caused by long-term alcohol abuse). Once these factors begin to impact liver function, the consequences can include gastrointestinal bleeding, fluid buildup (edema and ascites), cognitive interruption (encephalopathy), and liver cancer that can metastasize and spread.

The early stages of NASH and fatty liver have almost no recognizable symptoms, making these conditions dangerously difficult to diagnose. However, the symptoms that ultimately arise with liver disease include:

  • General fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain/swelling
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or sclera of the eye)

Diagnosing the difference between NAFLD and NASH often requires a liver biopsy once blood test results show irregular liver enzymes.

Whatever the cause of fatty liver, the treatment is the same: refrain from alcohol consumption, improve your diet, and take up regular exercise for the purpose of overall health and critical weight loss. Some cases may call for bariatric surgery or a liver transplant, but these are last efforts if lifestyle changes and dietary adjustments can’t reverse the condition.

Other diseases linked to metabolic syndrome, such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, and high blood pressure, also need to be screened for, addressed, and then treated to help recover and regenerate liver cells and prevent future damage caused by an abnormal amount of fat in the liver.

The Causes, Symptoms and Consequences of NASH

The NASH Diet: How to Reverse Fatty Liver Disease

If your liver is in peril, the first thing you need is the advice of a health care professional, ideally an expert in hepatology. To otherwise fight liver inflammation and reduce visceral fat, diet is key.

An excellent starting point for a NASH or NAFLD diet may be the Mediterranean diet, which prioritizes natural, healthy high-fat foods like olive oil, fish, nuts, and seeds while eliminating unnatural trans-fat foods and red meat.

While the National Institutes of Health provides a general recommendation towards eating less fat, targeted research done specifically on NAFLD and the influence of a Mediterranean diet show it may be a new therapeutic option. The type of fat matters greatly in this situation, and replacing saturated and trans-fats foods with mono- and polyunsaturated fats full of omega-3 fatty acids can improve your condition.

The ketogenic diet is another high-fat diet that (though it seems counterintuitive) may serve to improve your liver function and reverse NASH if you are successful in entering the metabolic state of ketosis, which burns body fat rapidly, including the visceral organ fat that causes fatty liver disease.

One study found that 6 months on a ketogenic diet “led to significant weight loss and histologic improvement of fatty liver disease” in human participants. Your doctor can help advise you on which diet, if either, is right for you. These study results are still preliminary, so it’s important that you always follow your doctor’s advice as it is the most appropriate for your individual health.

Once you receive medical advice, here is a blueprint for your new healthy diet, specifically which foods have shown scientifically backed direct improvements on NAFLD and NASH.

1. Nuts

Nuts—walnuts in particular—have been proven in clinical trials to improve the liver function tests of adults with fatty liver disease.

Because they are high in both monounsaturated fat and  omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts can help bring your omega-3:omega-6 fatty acid ratio closer to the golden 1:1, reduce your triglyceride levels, and quickly reverse hepatic steatosis (possibly in as little as 6 weeks). High levels of omega-6 fatty acids exacerbate inflammation, which is not only detrimental to the liver, but also increases risk factors for other chronic medical conditions like heart disease.

Nuts are also terrific sources of fiber, vitamin E, and phytochemicals, most notably phenolic acids, ellagic acid, and flavonoids that help to lower LDL cholesterol and neutralize free radicals before they can cause cellular damage.

2. Coffee

Good news if you enjoy waking up with coffee in the morning, because research shows that NASH and NAFLD patients who drink at least 2 cups of coffee a day have less liver scarring and lower levels of abnormal liver enzymes than those who do not. Fibrosis, or liver scarring, is the damage that leads to irreversible cirrhosis and liver failure, so by avoiding it going forward, you give your liver the chance to heal and regenerate.

Coffee also helps ameliorate cases of cirrhosis and hepatitis C, so no matter what condition your liver is in at the moment, taking up regular coffee consumption can help.

3. Fish

Much like nuts, fish contain concentrated amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to lower whole-body inflammation, triglyceride levels, and your risk for cardiovascular disease. Oily, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, and tuna improve liver fat levels in patients with NAFLD and reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Whether you consume fish in your meals, take a fish oil supplement with concentrated EPA and DHA (both omega-3s), or use algae oil if you follow a vegan lifestyle or have other dietary restrictions, increased levels of dietary omega-3 fatty acids are invaluable. In fact, they are key to several of the foods on this list.

4. Green Vegetables

You can’t go wrong with leafy greens like spinach and kale—they’re considered superfoods for a reason. Dark, leafy greens are dense with astronomical amounts of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial dietary fiber, but broccoli too has been found to help prevent fatty buildup in the liver and impede the advance of liver cancer.

Green veggies are also good for weight loss, comfortable digestion, and cancer prevention.

5. Avocado

A green of a different sort, the avocado is botanically classified as a single-seed berry with a rich, buttery taste that’s irreplaceable. Avocados are full of healthy fats conducive to weight loss and balancing out HDL and LDL cholesterol ratios, and they also contain dietary fiber for digestive comfort.

Avocados also come equipped with liver protectants that help slow the rate of liver damage, which allows the organ time to recover and heal.

6. Oatmeal

A NASH diet should restrict a large amount of carbs: cookies, cakes, white breads, pastas, and rice are carbohydrate foods that don’t benefit you enough to justify the impact they have on your blood sugar levels. Whole-grain foods, however, do provide that same familiar carb energy while contributing enough fiber and nutrients to ensure no adverse impact on your health.

Oatmeal falls in this category, along with whole wheat bread and pasta products and brown rice. Oatmeal has been shown to help prevent obesity, visceral fat deposits, and improve liver function in humans.

7. Milk or Milk Alternatives

Dairy products such as full- or low-fat milk contain whey protein, which studies indicate may protect against liver damage. However, not everyone can tolerate dairy, and those who lead a vegan lifestyle don’t consume any animal products, including substances like whey protein. Luckily, soy milk also has a favorable impact on NAFLD patients, as does the soy protein found in tofu. We’re not turning our noses up at almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, or coconut milk either.

8. Seeds

Sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and more: most adults in the modern world don’t get nearly enough. High in omega-3s and vitamin E, seeds help lower fatty deposits in the liver as well as boost bone mineral density, support weight-loss efforts by suppressing appetite, control blood sugar levels, and improve digestive health.

9. Olive Oil

We’re not done with foods that can help deliver omega-3 fatty acids: cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil also contains them, without the detrimental aspects that come from refined vegetable and seed oils. A key staple in both Mediterranean and keto diets, research reveals that olive oil helps control body weight and improve liver damage.

10. Green Tea

Many studies have found that, regardless of your age or health condition, regular consumption of green tea helps extend your life. More specifically green tea has been shown to help lower total cholesterol levels, block fat absorption, and reduce the risk factors for liver disease.

The NASH Diet: How to Reverse Fatty Liver Disease

NASH Recovery Aids: Amino Acids and Other Natural Remedies

Along with eating a healthy diet and removing alcohol and foods that contain damaging additives like high-fructose corn syrup, here are more natural recovery options you can supplement with to get your liver back to full health.

  • Amino acids: Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been found to help alleviate liver injury and hepatic steatosis associated with NASH. The branched-chain aminos are three of the nine essential amino acids (EAAs) that are needed for building new tissue like muscle, so we encourage supplementing with a full host of EAAs to support robust liver recovery.
  • Vitamin D: NAFLD and NASH are associated with vitamin D deficiency, and while there’s no link showing that low vitamin D causes these conditions, a vitamin D deficiency as a result of liver damage interrupts calcium absorption and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E are both natural antioxidants that help reduce inflammation by lowering the oxidative stress impact of free radicals in the body. This helps improve conditions like NASH as well as many other health concerns such as arthritis, lupus, and more.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: We’ve reviewed several omega-3 fatty acid foods above, but these can be easily supplemented if you’re still off-balance, either by using fish oil-derived products, krill oil, or vegan/vegetarian algae oil.

Medications that may help include insulin sensitizers like metformin (Glucophage), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and pioglitazone (Actos), which have shown signs of reducing liver fat alongside their intended use of lowering insulin resistance. Lipid-lowering drugs like statins and ezetimibe (Zetia) that help lower blood lipid levels also have the potential to improve NASH and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. These medications would need to be prescribed by a doctor, so speak to your physician if you want more information on how they may help your condition.

NASH Recovery Aids: Amino Acids and Other Natural Remedies

NASH Dashed

So you’re ready to start healing your liver with the NASH diet. That’s great! But you’ll also need to safely lose any excess weight you may be carrying. Look into aerobic exercise to help shed pounds and improve your health and fitness, make as many positive dietary changes as you can, and seek professional confirmation that these improvements are working as anticipated: reversing NASH and cleansing your liver so it can rejuvenate and get back to performing at optimal capacity.

How Long Does It Take to Reverse Fatty Liver Disease and Which Natural Supplements Help Accelerate Recovery?

How long does it take to reverse fatty liver disease and what can you do to help speed recovery? Along with dietary and lifestyle changes, there are certain natural supplements including amino acids, milk thistle, and more that can get your liver better faster.

One of the most wondrous features of the liver is its ability to heal, and life-threatening liver conditions, if they’re halted in time, can be completely reversed. There are two different kinds of fatty liver conditions: alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. They both have distinct timelines and healing protocols. This article covers both conditions and answers the question: how long does it take to reverse fatty liver disease?

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?

Determining the underlying cause of fatty liver disease is the first step in the reversal process. Here are the two avenues by which most people arrive at fatty liver disease.

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (ALD)

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is brought on by long-term alcohol use and abuse. Alcohol is a toxic substance, and as one of your main detoxification organs your liver, along with your kidneys, bears the brunt of this abuse. Long-term alcohol use causes liver damage by weakening liver cells, which then leads to widespread inflammation that impedes the normal work of the organ.

When fatty deposits (triglycerides) begin to clog the liver faster than it can filter them out, fatty liver develops.

Fatty liver can then progress to an enlarged liver (almost completely painless and therefore dangerously difficult to diagnose), alcoholic hepatitis (which may present with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and jaundice), and finally, alcoholic cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the buildup of scar tissue in the liver (known as fibrosis) that leads ultimately to liver failure, which may be fatal.

At every step along the way, a person’s survival rate increases if they can manage their addiction and cease drinking alcohol.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by a greater variety of factors, including fatty buildup from a poor diet, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, or health conditions related to metabolic syndrome such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. With so many potential causes—no one more or less relevant than the others—the sweeping dietary and lifestyle changes one has to make to reverse nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can be extremely challenging.

Nevertheless, it is vitally important that people with NAFLD do everything they can to lose excess fat from their frame, cut down on overall body weight, and improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Any amount of fat built up in the liver slows down the body’s whole machine, contributes massively to risk factors for heart disease and prediabetes, and can ultimately lead to life-threatening liver conditions like nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is the most severe form of NAFLD. NASH leads to higher instances of death in patients with cardiovascular conditions, and much like alcoholic fatty liver disease, it too progresses into fibrosis (scarring of liver tissue), cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure, and sometimes early death if a liver transplant can’t be had in time.

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Fatty Liver Disease?

The sooner you realize your liver is in peril, the better your prospects are for reversing the buildup of fat and reducing liver inflammation before you’re in a life-threatening situation or in need of a liver transplant.

The most well-known signs of liver damage usually come at the end-stage of liver disease, like pain, an escalation of other health problems, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or sclera of the eye).

Here are the earliest signs of fatty liver disease:

  • General fatigue
  • Mental confusion
  • Discomfort in the upper right side of your torso where the liver is located
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Itchy skin
  • Weakness
  • Clusters of web-like blood vessels beneath the skin
  • Nosebleeds
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

Again, many of these symptoms may not appear until later in the game after the damage has already been done, so if you feel persistently unwell and can’t pinpoint a reason, make an appointment with your doctor and request blood tests.

Some of the early symptoms of fatty liver disease, if you experience them at all, could also be the symptoms of an autoimmune disorder or another underlying condition. The doctor may measure your liver enzyme levels, conduct other liver function tests, or even perform a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Fatty Liver Disease?

How Long Does It Take to Reverse Fatty Liver Disease?

Once you know what you’re dealing with and you’re in that golden window of time where you can still recover your liver’s full function, how long does it take?

The answer depends on which type of fatty liver disease you are working with, the stage you’re at, and whether or not there are any other surrounding health conditions.

That being said, here is what we know: it is possible to reverse fatty liver disease in as little as 6 weeks.

Keep in mind that a complete reversal of fatty liver disease in under 2 months is the ideal circumstance. It is possible with an otherwise healthy person who becomes aware of their liver buildup in the early stages and immediately takes steps to remedy it. Adherence to certain lifestyle changes is key, including the following alterations.

  • Abstain. This is certainly the first step in alcohol-induced fatty liver disease, but even for those who only drink occasionally, abstaining from any toxin like alcohol and drugs (including unnecessary over-the-counter medications) helps take the pressure off your liver so it can prioritize healing.
  • Diet. The fatty liver diet removes problematic foods such as those with high carbs or artificial flavors and processed sweeteners like fructose in favor of a lower carb diet made up of foods such as whole grains, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats like fish, nuts, and seeds that contain omega-3 fatty acids that help you control full-body inflammation levels.
  • Exercise. Hand in hand with a healthy diet comes regular exercise. If you’ve been living a sedentary life, this doesn’t mean it’s time to train for a triathlon (although we certainly encourage you to set that goal for the near future if you’d like), but it does mean scheduling regular physical activity, be it evening walks, a fitness class at your local gym, or taking up a sport with a friend.
  • Rest. By rest, we mean getting regular, high-quality sleep and prioritizing activities that help you de-stress, whether that means morning yoga, movies with friends, calming dates with your loved one, or weekend activities with your kids. Stress amplifies inflammation in the body, and getting control over your schedule to make time for soothing events can help lower it at much as any medication or supplement.
  • Supplement. Be sure to ask your doctor before starting any new supplement, but when it comes to reversing fatty liver, natural supplements may be far preferable to medications that contribute to the liver’s workload. Amino acids, turmeric, milk thistle, and vitamin E have all been proven to help repair the liver.

How Long Does It Take to Reverse Fatty Liver Disease?

Amino Acids, Milk Thistle, and Other Natural Liver Repair Aids

As we’ve said, how long it takes to reverse fatty liver disease depends on many factors, but there are universal ways to help speed up healing. Following your doctor’s advice to the letter is step one, but you could also help boost your remedy with the following scientifically backed natural liver aids.

1. Amino Acids

Human beings depend on 20 amino acids (out of the more than 700 known amino acids that exist in the world) to build muscle and function normally. Some of these amino acids are absolutely vital to a speedy liver recovery.

We’ve long known that the liver is important for amino acid metabolism alongside its detox duties. But researchers recently examined the therapeutic effects of amino acids in liver diseases and discovered that the liver requires a handful of essential and nonessential amino acids in order to synthesize lipids, metabolize cell material, and detoxify the blood. This 2019 review highlighted the amino acids that aid fatty detox. Let’s take a look at how they can help hasten fatty liver recovery.

Alanine

Produced naturally as a result of glycolysis (the use of glucose as energy by our muscles), alanine is a nonessential amino acid.  Under normal circumstances, the body can make enough alanine to meet its needs, but in times of an illness such as fatty liver disease, more alanine is sometimes required than the body is able to produce.

Alanine helps transport ammonia to the liver. Once alanine makes its way to the liver, it regenerates urea and glucose and participates in enzyme regulation. Studies show that when given to rats with liver damage, alanine inhibits the elevation of the alanine transaminase (ALT) enzymes, which then prevents further liver damage.

Extra intake of alanine has also been shown to help reduce body fat mass in obese subjects.

Glutamate

The amino acid glutamate helps maintain the hepatic urea cycle and inhibit inflammatory responses. It also acts as an antioxidant and helps the liver metabolize and synthesize other amino acids.

Glutamate used in the treatment of rabbits given oxidized mustard oil (a toxin) helped decrease the total levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in their blood serum and helped restore liver function against the influence of oxidized mustard oil, which causes fat accumulation, hepatitis, and liver necrosis.

Aspartate

The acidic amino acid aspartate is needed for synthesizing arginine, asparagine, beta-alanine, pyrimidine, inositol, and purine. Normally aspartate is itself synthesized from oxaloacetate, but supplementing with aspartate has been shown to help suppress and prevent fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed animal models.

Administration of this amino acid may also help prevent liver fibrosis (the step before cirrhosis) and hepatic steatosis, and reduce the level of liver damage incited by pro-inflammatory compounds.

Glycine

One of the building blocks for RNA and DNA synthesis, glycine plays an important role in calcium absorption and the body’s immune response. In animal studies of chronic hepatotoxicity, administered glycine helped protect the liver against fibrosis scarring and helped stop the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Studies have also shown that glycine helps improve the liver’s regenerative capacity after a liver transplant.

Glycine has also been proven to function as an antioxidant aid by boosting antioxidant enzymes that reduce oxidative stress damage in ethanol-induced liver injury (meaning glycine is specifically appropriate for alcoholic fatty liver disease). Glycine helps increase levels of the antioxidant vitamins C and E and improve the survival rate of subjects by regulating pro- and anti-inflammatory production.

In one study, dietary intake of glycine helped speed the recovery of alcohol-induced liver damage in rats over a period of 4 weeks (even faster than the 6 weeks experts suggest it takes to reverse fatty liver disease completely in humans).

Serine

Produced naturally from the process of consuming food, serine helps synthesize lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins in the body. Serine supplementation in cases of NASH have shown that it alters gene expression in a positive way. Likewise, in models of alcoholic fatty liver, serine was found to help reduce triglyceride and lipid accumulation in the liver.

Histidine

Histidine is an essential amino acid needed for hemoglobin function, protein activity, and possibly regulating copper accumulation in the liver (a genetic dysfunction known as Wilson’s disease). A histidine diet reduced levels of the ALT enzyme in rats, decreased inflammatory cytokines in acetaminophen-damaged mouse models, and may help relieve cases of hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, and inflammation in mice with diabetes.

Ingesting histidine also helps with cholesterol metabolism in non-liver areas of the body, which then has the side effect of reducing overall body weight and hepatic levels of cholesterol and triglyceride. It even fights against insulin resistance by improving insulin sensitivity, helpful in cases of type 2 diabetes prevention and treatment.

Threonine

Necessary for digestive and immune function, threonine is mainly broken down by two enzymes in the liver (threonine dehydratase and threonine dehydrogenase), both of which are significantly decreased in cases of hepatitis. Unused threonine results in a threonine deficiency, which is known to cause mitochondrial uncoupling and reduce energy expenditure in the liver, which restricts growth and healing in the organ.

Methionine

Methionine prevents fatty buildup in the liver due to its role as a lipotropic agent, meaning it works to break down and metabolize fat. Methionine can help healing in cases of alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and has been identified by scientists as a promising therapeutic agent in liver disorders.

Leucine

Supplementing with dietary leucine has been found to reduce hepatic steatosis and diabetic nephropathy in animal models, making it an effective nutritional intervention in both conditions. Leucine is one of the three branched-chain amino acids popular among bodybuilders as a muscle-building supplement, but its benefit extends to positively influencing the factors that cause hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as protecting us against metabolic syndrome and aiding patients with advanced chronic liver disease.

Arginine

Arginine is an essential amino acid that has been proven to prevent liver injury and enhance liver regeneration after hepatectomy, two clear factors that help to ameliorate and reverse fatty liver disease. Arginine supplementation also works to reduce high blood pressure and treat heart disease, leading to overall better health, strength, and longevity.

2. Milk Thistle

Milk thistle, also known as silymarin, is a well-known detox aid, but it also has real medical benefit in the treatment of liver conditions and the prevention of death from end-stage liver disease.

This 2012 study points out explicitly that the long-term administration of silymarin significantly increases the survival time of patients with alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver. Milk thistle is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant—at any stage of liver treatment and recovery, it may help you towards your goal to heal by promoting hepatocyte regeneration.

3. Turmeric

Another anti-inflammatory natural remedy, turmeric has shown more benefit in scientific studies than dedicated anti-inflammatory drugs. Without fail turmeric (and its active ingredient curcumin) decreases inflammation, including in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, and does so with minimal-to-zero side effects.

This 2019 review of randomized controlled trials, including one trial conducted over an 8-week period, concluded that high dosages of curcumin/turmeric may have a favorable effect on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found naturally in liver-health foods like nuts, seeds, and green, leafy vegetables, and it has been shown to help liver health and performance when taken as a supplement. Specifically, we’re talking about as much as 40 times the recommended amount of vitamin E intake from food.

This 2018 study found that the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-apoptotic (anti-cell death) abilities of vitamin E were both effective and well-tolerated in non-diabetic patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, meaning it’s therapeutic even in the most extreme cases of NAFLD that have progressed to dangerous limits.

5. Omega-3s

Studies have consistently shown that omega-3 fatty acids (found naturally in foods like fish and seeds and also available in supplemental fish oil capsules) help reduce the fatty deposits in livers. Specifically, this 2016 meta-analysis shows that omega-3s improve levels of liver fat, gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), triglycerides (TG), and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in NAFLD patients.

Lowering high cholesterol levels and high triglyceride levels and improving the overall ratio between “good” HDL and “bad” LDL cholesterol all contribute to reversing fatty liver disease, along with improving other cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure. The study suggests omega-3 application may be a new treatment option for NAFLD, and you can get on the cutting edge of that discovery by supplementing yourself.

Amino Acids, Milk Thistle and Other Natural Liver Repair Aids

Reverse, Recover, Rejoice

Fatty liver is the first step down a long and dangerous road, but when you’re only one foot onto that path, you can still pull back. Reversing fatty liver disease before it leads to chronic and irreversible liver damage could literally save your life. It’s possible, it can be done in a matter of weeks, and the sooner the better, which is why we’ve done the research and found out which natural products can help you heal faster without taxing your liver’s vital work.

We here at the Amino Co. understand how important it is to maintain liver health, which is why our experts have developed a special amino acid formula targeted toward liver health, purity, and detoxification—every little bit can help you prevent disaster.

The Potential Health Benefits of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)

Pyrroloquinoline quinone is an essential nootropic useful to our brains and our energy metabolism. Where is it found naturally and what can supplementing with PQQ do for your health? We have these answers and more.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is an aromatic tricyclic o-quinone that is not synthesized in mammals, including humans, or bacteria like Escherichia coli (E.coli). It is still found in our tissues due to its presence in soil and in some of our foods, which is how it makes its way into human breastmilk. You may be wondering if PQQ is friend or foe, poison or beneficial potion. We have the answers to those questions here.

What Is Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)?

Pyrroloquinoline quinone, aka methoxatin, is a redox cofactor. Translation: it’s a non-protein molecule that binds to enzymes and proteins to form a passageway for electron transfers in redox reactions. Redox reactions are oxidation-reduction reactions, essentially any chemical reaction in which a molecule, ion, or atom’s oxidation number changes when it loses or gains an electron. Does that make it good or bad for you?

PQQ is good for us. In fact, PQQ as a nootropic has been shown to improve mitochondrial function and relieve age-related oxidative stress in aging mammals like rats. And PQQ supplementation may help boost the cell-signaling pathways associated with our mitochondria, which are responsible for energy metabolism in our bodies.

To better understand the role of PQQ, let’s take a look at what happens when there’s a deficiency. Animal studies reveal that a lack of PQQ leads to immune dysfunction, impaired growth, and abnormal reproductive performance, so while it’s not currently classified as a vitamin by the United State Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dietary pyrroloquinoline quinone may deserve to be prioritized alongside the vitamins, amino acids, and essential minerals we’re so careful to take daily.

The effects of PQQ supplementation are becoming more and more valued due to its neuroprotective abilities and antioxidant activities. Let’s take a look at the studies proving these claims, plus advice on how to safely ingest PQQ supplements.

What Is Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)?

The Potential Health Benefits of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone

With vitamin-like effects as a coenzyme of quinoproteins, PQQ boosts redox cycling, which is mitochondrial energy production that gives us the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) we need to fuel our skeletal muscles for workouts and daily human functioning. While it’s found in trace amounts in some foods (see a full list further down in this article), many find it to be more effectively absorbed from a single-dose supplement to gain the following benefits.

1. Enhanced Energy

When your mitochondria are operating at their fullest capacity, you’re functioning like a well-oiled machine. Dietary PQQ helps cells perform spontaneous mitochondrial biogenesis, which is the synthesis of new living structures or organisms inside of a cell. By increasing the number of mitochondria our cells have, PQQ helps build the very engine that gives us energy each day and helps to control cellular metabolism so that we don’t flag or feel fatigued when we need energy the most.

You may recall from high school biology that the mitochondria in cells are those big globs filled with wiggles, and are there to eat up any nearby cellular junk and turn otherwise wasted or disruptive material into usable energy. PQQ not only helps increase the amount of mitochondria and energize our bodies, but it also helps make those mitochondria more efficient. This leads to a significant boost in the energy levels of those who may otherwise experience chronic fatigue, as seen in this 2012 study in which participants with energy issues reported a notable decrease in fatigue levels after ingesting PQQ.

For anyone with a form of chronic fatigue, PQQ supplementation may offer relief.

2. Improved Sleep

The above-linked study from 2012 also focused on sleep in relation to fatigue and stress levels. A lack of proper sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, weight gain, lower sex drive, and an increased risk of certain medical conditions like type 2 diabetes and certain accidental injuries like car accidents. Participants reported improved levels of energy and experienced better sleep, perhaps because PQQ may reduce the amount of cortisol in the body, a stress hormone that leads to sleepless nights and sometimes grinding anxiety that can interfere with your enjoyment of life.

Long story short, PQQ is a biofactor that can produce positive impacts on your health in both physiological and psychological areas. While more research is needed for any real scientific consensus, PQQ is a water-soluble enzyme cofactor that may do well included in an evening nightcap of chamomile tea.

3. Neural Growth

This is a rather cursory benefit that is far from being proved out to any real degree of scientific certainty but still it’s worth mentioning. One study from 1993 (recently republished in 2014) asserts that PQQ is a potent enhancer of nerve growth factor (NGF), which could lead to improved survival chances based on increased neuronal growth.

Some people supplement with NGF specifically to help regrow the dendrites and neurites in their brain, which may help contribute to improved cognition and signaling between neurons. By providing your brain with the supplies it needs to rejuvenate, you may help stave off age-related memory loss.

4. Fertility Aid

This is only the tip of the iceberg in the new and largely uninvestigated potential of pyrroloquinoline quinone, but a study from researchers Steinberg, Gershwin, and Rucker at the University of California discovered that PQQ stimulated neonatal growth in mice.

Not only did dietary PQQ help offspring survive, but those groups most deprived of PQQ had fewer pups per litter. As an animal study, this may not have much bearing on human fertility, but as PQQ is a natural part of our diet that we’re worse off without, it may already be a contributing factor to our reproductive performance and our growth during critical developmental stages.

5. Memory Booster

Not only does PQQ have what some researchers note to be a “formidable free radical–scavenging capacity” as an antioxidant, but other scientists (Ohwada, Takeda, Yamazaki, Isogai, Nakano, Shimomura, Fukui, Urano at the Shibaura Institute of Technology in Japan) have found that PQQ may also help improve memory. To be clear, this testing was done using a combination of PQQ and CoQ10, another member of the coenzyme family known as ubiquinone, perhaps because it is ubiquitous among mammals and most bacteria. While many people supplementing consider PQQ and CoQ10 interchangeable, they may be more powerful together.

PQQ as a cofactor in several redox reactions has the capacity to scavenge reactive oxygen species and inhibit cell apoptosis, which stands for cell death. This promotes cognitive health and could make a real difference in preventing neurodegenerative conditions.

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Foods

Before we go, let’s check in on the nutritional status of PQQ and where it’s found naturally in foods.

  • Kiwis: Fuzzy on the outside and verdant on the inside, kiwis are a refreshing way to ingest PQQ.
  • Papaya: This tropical fruit isn’t green like so many other contenders on this list, but it still has a significant enough amount of PQQ to merit mention.
  • Green peppers: Chop them up for a colorful stir-fry dish and know that there’s a PQQ component to this fresh veggie.
  • Parsley: More than just a decorative garnish, this leafy green has all the benefits of any other vegetable, plus natural traces of PQQ.
  • Green and oolong tea: Shown scientifically to help improve human longevity across the board, green tea is made even more powerful thanks to its small helping of PQQ.
  • Animal foods: Eggs and dairy products have fair amounts of PQQ as well.

If you want a more concentrated helping of PQQ, supplemental pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt can be found under the brand name BioPQQ. A small amount goes a very long way with this compound, so be sure to start small and don’t disregard the dosing instructions on the packaging.

Mind Your Ps and Qs

PQQ is likely the nootropic you’ve never heard of, but as a natural trace substance quietly essential to some of the most central functions in our bodies like energy creation and brain function, PQQ deserves its spot in the limelight, so don’t hesitate to explore its health benefits further and perhaps ask your doctor if it’s right for you.

Weight Gaining for Skinny Guys: How to Bulk Up and Fill Out

Those with an ectomorphic body type have a hard time filling out and gaining weight, but the right workouts and nutritional support can turn that around. Learn what it takes to build up your body and bulk out your frame.

It’s a genetic reality that some people tend toward skinniness and can’t seem to pack on the pounds, or muscle mass, no matter what they eat or how hard they train. The following article discusses this natural body type and has tips for weight gaining for skinny guys so you can take control of your biology and build the body you want.

Natural Male Body Types

Here are the standard body types men have to work with.

  • EctomorphThis is your classic “skinny guy” build—body types with lean muscle mass, knobby joints, long limbs, and fast metabolisms. It’s what’s known as a “hard gainer,” meaning it’s difficult for this body to gain weight.
  • Mesomorph: This is the “Superman” build, a body that’s naturally athletic with big bone structure and large muscles. Men with this body type may find it much easier to build muscle and gain weight, and they must also be careful to keep their weight training and workouts on par with their calorie intake so they don’t gain too much.
  • Endomorph: This build is often referred to as “stocky.” It’s a rounder, denser body type that has the opposite problem skinny guys have—it’s often harder for this form to lose weight and far easier to pack it on.

Let’s focus in on ectomorphic frames and how you can gain weight to bulk out a naturally slim form.

Weight Gaining for Skinny Guys: How to Bulk Up and Fill Out

Weight Gaining for Skinny Guys

There are two flanks to weight gaining for skinny guys: workout programs that contribute to weight gain and calorie-dense foods and smoothies to supply the nutrients you need.

Workout Programs

Weight training contributes efficiently to your bulking goals. Squats, deadlifts, strength training, and cardio keep your blood flow powerful. You can gain weight by lifting weight and use your workout routine to demand that your body grow to meet bigger and bigger challenges with heavy lifting, free weights, and bench presses.

Weight gained from lifting is solid weight, muscle weight that’s hard to gain but also harder to lose once you have it. With as few as two or three training sessions each week, and without the need for a personal trainer, you can stimulate muscle growth with heavy weights so long as you consume enough food and extra calories to supply the demand. Here are the specifics on seven key exercises.

1. Deadlift

We’ll start with the most obvious contributor to muscle gain: the deadlift. Depending on your current fitness level, you may begin utilizing the deadlift ASAP, or you may need to train up for a few weeks first—definitely err on the side of safety if you’re new to keeping a fitness regimen because an injury could slow you down way more than being cautious for a week or two.

The deadlift is a full-body exercise, working your core and your hamstrings, that can help you add muscle mass to your upper body, lower body, and glutes. Here’s how it’s done according to The American Council on Exercise:

  • Place a barbell on the floor in front of you and plant your feet at shoulder width apart.
  • Be sure to keep your chest and back straight when bending down to grab hold of the bar.
  • With palms down, slowly raise the bar up to a standing position using your glutes and your hamstrings, leaning back on your hips slightly. It’s important that you lift from your lower body and not from your lower back, which can be easily injured.
  • Once you’re standing upright, begin to lower the bar back down, sinking back on your heels and bending your knees, but keeping your back straight the entire time.
  • Repeat until you’ve reached your goal.

2. Standing Military Press

This is an upper-body exercise that targets your shoulders, triceps, and upper back. Just a few reps with heavy weight can make a huge difference in these areas of your body and help fill out a classic male frame: the inverted triangle.

  • Once you’ve loaded the barbell up with the weight you want to lift, raise the bar up to your chest, palms facing upward.
  • Your hands should be holding the bar slightly wider than your shoulder span, and your knees should stay slightly bent, not locked into place.
  • To lift, bring the bar to your collarbone, and then press it up, above your head.
  • To end the lift, go in reverse, bringing the bar back down to your collar. Then let it down to your waist until your arms fully extend.
  • Repeat as desired.

3. Curling and Bent-Over Rows

Another back and bicep combo, bent-over rows build muscles directly onto your lats, especially when combined with a bicep curl.

  • With a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing down, bend your knees and lean forward from the waist.
  • When your chest is almost parallel to the floor, straighten your arms out in front of you.
  • Next, pull your arms to your body, tucking your elbows into your sides.
  • Row once, straighten up to perform a bicep curl, and then get into position to row again.
  • The heavier the weights, the more muscle you stand to gain. This can be done with one barbell or with two free-weight dumbbells, one in each hand.

4. Weighted Hip Thrust

For bulking and tightening up your glutes, the standard exercise is the squat, but if you really want to add weight where it wasn’t before, you can ramp up this exercise with the weighted hip thrust. You’ll need a heavily weighted barbell and a low bench to execute it.

  • Squat down against the bench, with its pad across your back, just below the shoulder blades.
  • With the barbell across your lap and your knees directly over your feet, lift with your core and your glutes until your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Sink back down to complete the rep, and repeat.

5. Incline Barbell Bench Press

For your chest muscles, this bench press can help bulk up your shoulders, triceps, and pecs. Here’s how it’s done:

  • On a bench set between a 30- and 45-degree incline and a heavily weighted barbell and grab the bar with your palms downward and your hands shoulder width apart.
  • Lay back on the bench and bring the weight down to your chest, then press it upward until your arms are fully extended.
  • Lower the barbell back to your chest slowly, controlling the weight downward.
  • Rest the barbell at chest level between reps.

6. Barbell Hack Squat

Now to change it up a little: you’re used to lifting with the weight in front of you, so this time let’s lift the weight from behind. The barbell hack squat targets your hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

  • Begin by placing the weighted barbell on the floor behind you.
  • Start from a squatted position with your thighs parallel to the ground.
  • Reach back to grab the barbell with your palms facing out away from you.
  • Keep your core in control, your lower back slightly arched, and be sure to lift from your knees.
  • Stand once and then lower back into your squat, repeat as desired.

7. Weighted Hanging Leg Raise

Leg raises are already a full-body feat, but if you want them to help you bulk up even more, add weight. It’s best done with a pull-up bar of some sort and a dumbbell weight you can grasp with your ankles or affix there.

  • Grab or attach the weight at your ankles and grasp onto the pull-up bar.
  • Lift up your knees first and then straighten out your legs for one rep.
  • The added weight not only contributes to your core strength, but it also helps you bulk and tone your muscles. Add a twist to the move at your knees if you want to go even further, as this will work your obliques.

Mass Gainer Foods and Supplements

Muscle building is a great way to increase your body weight and fill out your physique, but it’s imperative that you feed the need.

Mass Gainer Foods

Your macronutrient ratio should skew heavily towards high-protein foods with natural, healthy fats. Fat gain, while technically a way to gain weight, is not the goal—muscle gain is. That means avoiding junk foods with empty calories, refined oils, and processed sugar, and prioritizing the following foods.

  • Protein foods: Whether it’s animal protein like chicken breast, plant protein like a good helping of peanut butter, or whole milk foods like cottage cheese, getting enough protein is incredibly important to gain the essential amino acids required to synthesize new muscle.
  • Fiber foods: Veggies high in fiber help a high-protein diet by keeping your digestive system regular and comfortable. Green, leafy vegetables also have a high density of valuable nutrients like the vitamin K necessary for bone strength.
  • Fatty foods: A high-calorie diet aimed to bulk you out can really benefit from natural, healthy fats like those found in fish, nuts, avocados, and olive oil.

Mass Gainer Supplements

Certain protein and amino acid supplements can help concentrate the bulking nutrients naturally found in foods and deliver them right when you need them, pre-workout, post-workout, and before bed so that you don’t lose muscle mass while you sleep. Whey protein powder, casein protein, creatine, and robust amino acid supplements with BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are all weight gainer aids, and here is the breakdown of how they impact your muscle mass goals.

Whey Protein and Casein

Whey is a milk protein derived from the whey or watery part of milk, while casein is a milk protein found in the solid curd.

Whey protein contains some amount of all the essential amino acids, including the branched-chain amino acids (more on those below).

Whey protein digests relatively quickly, meaning you definitely want to include it just before your workout to make sure your body has fast access to muscle-building supplies in real-time when you need to get in a few more reps to step up your fitness level. Just make sure the supplement you choose includes “whey protein hydrolysates” as they’re the proteins that break down and digest the fastest, with peptides to help boost blood flow. In fact, the only proteins to digest faster are free-form amino acids that don’t have to be broken down before they can be used.

Casein protein, on the other hand, has a slower digestion rate, but this doesn’t mean whey is necessarily better. Fast digestion is key for a bodybuilding workout, but when it comes to endurance exercise you need both a quick boost and a long-term follow-through. This is also true when you’re asleep: when you’re trying to bulk up you have to eat a lot more than usual to make sure your body doesn’t turn to catabolism as you sleep, a destructive metabolism that utilizes existing muscle cells to build new ones if you don’t supply the body with enough amino acids as raw materials.

Casein products with micellar casein are those with the slowest-digesting form of the protein and can be even more powerful when combined with whey and other protein supplements like readily accessible free-form amino acids.

Creatine

A well-known workout supplement since the 1970s, creatine is composed of three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. It’s especially effective in resistance exercises as it plays an important role in supplying the energy needed for muscle contractions.

Creatine can be found in the forms creatine monohydrate, creatine malate, and creatine alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG). Once inside the body, creatine converts to phosphocreatine, which is used to supply energy for explosive exertions like those required for the kind of heavy weightlifting exercises described above. During workouts, when your body is using more ATP energy than can be regenerated in time, the creatine-phosphocreatine system provides an extra supply of fuel.

Creatine, like milk proteins, is stronger in concert with other muscle-building supplements. A scientifically balanced combination of these proteins can help you get the best of everything, which brings us to the most important muscle-building supplement of all.

Amino Acids

Protein is made out of amino acids, and muscles are made out of protein. You cannot synthesize new muscle without a full host of all the essential amino acids (EAAs), which include the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). However, despite the popularity of BCAAs in the gym, they are only a third of the EAAs, and cannot stand in for the rest.

We here at the Amino Company have developed an EAA blend that doesn’t stop at the BCAAs, and includes elements of creatine, whey protein, and casein to make sure you’re covered on all bases.

The science is not unclear: our bodies are made of 20% protein, and amino acids are the keys to repairing and strengthening existing muscle, as well as synthesizing new muscle cells. When you work out hard with the aim to bulk up, you’ll be doing both, and will need the best-quality support you can find.

Unlike milk proteins which must be digested first to be effective in muscle creation, a direct supply of balanced amino acids is absorbed even more rapidly. However, with whey’s long-haul support and creatine’s alternative energy supply, our unique, patent-pending EAA formula outperforms other blends because it doesn’t skip any ingredient that has a positive impact on quality muscle creation.

Every gram of protein you consume, whether it comes from a protein shake or from whole foods, contributes to your weightlifting power and helps you build muscle and gain weight. You’ve got to eat like a bodybuilder to become one, especially because without the right weight gainer supplement rounding out your daily calories, all the working out you do might bring about too much catabolism and ultimately work against your goals.

Gain Weight, Gain Positivity

If you’re unhappy with your body and tired of feeling as scrawny as you used to be in high school, building muscle is a great way to facilitate the weight loss of body fat (so you’re not what’s known as “skinny fat”) and turn every pound of body weight you gain into impressive muscle mass. Getting enough calories from weight gainer shakes pre- and post-workout is the support you need for the aptly named work of bodybuilding: you’re literally building a better body. Build it strong with the proper amount of calories and the amino acids necessary for new muscle growth.

Metformin for Anti-Aging: The Next Big Break in Healthcare

Metformin is an anti-diabetic medication that is now being tested as the world’s first truly anti-aging drug due to its impact on heart health, inflammation, cancer, obesity, and neurodegenerative diseases. Can this drug actually reverse the aging of our cells?

The drug metformin has been shown to alter inflammation pathways in the body, which means it can target aging symptoms and remove the exacerbation caused by oxidative stress in conditions like dementia, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. With human testing just getting underway in a study called Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME), metformin for anti-aging and the treatment of chronic diseases may be the next big breakthrough in healthcare.

What Is Metformin? How Does It Work?

Metformin is currently used as a diabetes drug to help control blood sugar levels for those with type 2 diabetes (but not type 1). It’s been managing diabetes since the 1950s in the United Kingdom (and since the 1990s in the U.S.) and is even safe enough for pregnant women to take in cases of gestational diabetes. Metformin is the most commonly prescribed diabetes medication.

Metformin, also known as Glucophage tablets, is metformin hydrochloride, derived from a substance found in French lilac, a type of flowering plant. It’s classified as a biguanide medication, able to lower the amount of sugar in the blood in instances of insulin resistance.

When a person with type 2 diabetes can’t control their blood sugar levels via diet and exercise, metformin may be prescribed. However, the effect of metformin on human health goes far beyond blood sugar control.

Recent studies have found that metformin also boosts AMPK activity (AMP-activated protein kinase) and reduces the free radical superoxide via the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) protein expression. This reduces inflammation throughout the body and helps prevents DNA mutation and damage, two huge contributors to the aging process. The use of metformin, therefore, may increase life expectancy in aging adults.

What Is Metformin? How Does It Work?

The Benefits of Metformin for Anti-Aging and More

In gerontology, which is the study of old age and the impact of aging on humans, the quest for longer lives is always at the forefront. While the low-cost generic version of metformin has been used for years to activate AMPK and lower blood sugar levels, scientists have recently found that the health benefits of this drug extend to reversing certain effects of aging and are now attempting to get it recognized as the first truly anti-aging drug. A new clinical trial has been approved by the FDA to explore the anti-aging applications of metformin and is the first step in what could be the discovery of the century. Here are the proven abilities of metformin so far.

1. Anti-Aging Effects

According to researchers, metformin can inhibit or reduce many factors that accelerate aging, including chronic inflammation, DNA damage, and weakened mitochondrial function. By promoting the signaling cells AMPK and mTOR, metformin helps reduce sugar and fat storage and encourages our cells to return to their youthful levels of functioning. This positively impacts the human lifespan and helps prevent some of the most dangerous age-related diseases. These discoveries began with animal studies and progressed to human trials.

  • Roundworms given metformin lived 20% longer than the control group thanks to the increase in AMPK activity.
  • Mice that were administered metformin lived 6% longer than mice in the control group.
  • Human participants taking metformin as an antidiabetic drug ultimately lived 15% longer than matched non-diabetic adults.

Because our AMPK activity, like so many other vital processes, declines with age, a drug like metformin that can safely restore AMPK functioning helps reverse the aging of our cells. This effect is irrespective of whether or not you have diabetes, as AMPK is involved in all of our tissues, and metformin offers broad-spectrum support against conditions like obesity, cancer, heart disease, and even neurodegenerative conditions.

2. Anti-Obesity Abilities

If you’ve ever wondered why getting older often means getting fatter, it’s because the youthful behavior of our cells is to burn fat, while age causes our cells to store fat. By activating AMPK, metformin helps to remove sugar from the blood for use as energy, which has the positive side effect of reducing body fat storage and preventing or reversing obesity.

This effect occurs in non-diabetic populations and in people with conditions that almost invariably lead to weight gain, such as women with polycystic ovary syndrome. One study showed that patients with polycystic ovary syndrome who were given metformin for 6 months enjoyed significant reductions in blood sugar levels and weight, losing an average of about 9 pounds, and also had higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. The control group, on the other hand, saw increases in their blood sugar and weight levels.

That’s not the only unique challenge that metformin has overcome. It has also been effective in lowering the insulin resistance and the body mass index (BMI) of those taking antipsychotic drugs like quetiapine, risperidone, aripiprazole, and olanzapine. Some of the major side effects of these drugs include insulin resistance and rapid weight gain, but metformin can help counteract those effects.

Metformin has also shown similar effects in perfectly healthy adults looking to combat weight gain in middle age and beyond. Researchers found that when healthy participants took metformin they lost more than 11 pounds in 1 year, a significant amount of weight loss that could possibly prevent the development of obesity and all the complications of metabolic syndrome that come with it.

Metformin can even help improve the weight profile of young people, specifically teenagers who may be able to avoid a lifetime of medical issues if they can reign in their weight at that developmental age.

3. Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

Often hand-in-hand with obesity comes the threat of cardiovascular disease. With all of the cholesterol-lowering drugs on the market, adults in the United States are still dying as a result of heart disease in shocking numbers. Atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries due to fat and plaque buildup in the bloodstream, is the most common culprit. Metformin can help prevent such buildup before it happens.

Again, this ability is attributed to metformin’s AMPK activation, which mitigates LDL cholesterol oxidation, reduces fat accumulation in blood vessels, and facilitates cholesterol exportation out of cells. On top of all that, metformin helps protect our endothelial cells, the cells that make up the lining of our blood vessels, helping them resist fat penetration and prevent the endothelial dysfunction that is one of the main precursors to atherosclerosis.

There are multiple human studies showing metformin’s effect on heart health. A 2016 study found that it helped reduce the systolic blood pressure of non-diabetic participants. In another study it helped reduce the risk of dying by 75% in heart attack survivors during the first month of recovery. Metformin reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation, stroke, and death from all adverse cardiovascular events.

4. Anti-Cancer Effects

Not only do diabetics have an increased risk of developing neck and head cancers, a risk that metformin can reduce up to 46%, but metformin can also reduce gastric cancers by 55%. Non-diabetic patients can also experience this boost, as was found in this massive analysis of studies comprising more than 24,000 participants taking metformin. Results showed a 37% improvement in the rate of recurrence and a 31% improvement in overall survival in cases of colon and rectal cancers. Roughly the same was found in incidences of prostate cancer, with a 17% improvement in recurrence-free survival and an overall survival rate improvement of 18%.

Metformin’s anti-cancer ability has been studied in cases involving 17 distinct organs, with an 86% improvement of cancer inhibition across the board, with no evidence showing a risk that it may stimulate any form of cancer. It’s a safe and effective prevention method.

5. Neuroprotective Advantage

The effects of metformin on the biomarkers of human aging can potentially prevent age-related neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. By restoring AMPK activity to more youthful levels, the buildup of proteins in the brain cells which characterizes neurodegenerative diseases can be cleaned up more effectively. Specifically, metformin helps to lower levels of enzymes that produce beta-amyloid proteins, decrease the impact of beta-amyloid on brain cell functioning, reduce the levels of the protein alpha-synuclein, and prevent the loss of dopamine-producing cells in Parkinson’s cases.

One study found that taking 2,000 milligrams of metformin each day for a year helped older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a precursor to Alzheimer’s) improve their memory recall. There’s a form of diabetes specifically associated with Alzheimer’s disease known as type 3 diabetes, making this aspect of a leading diabetes medication all the more important.

Precautions for Metformin Use

Although metformin is incredibly safe considering all that it can do to improve cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders, it’s still important to know that metformin can disrupt vitamin B12 absorption and may increase levels of homocysteine (another risk factor for cardiovascular disease). A physician may recommend a B-complex supplement or prescription, as normal amounts of the vitamin B12 in foods most likely will not provide enough to counteract this issue.

Moreover, some studies have noted that metformin may reduce testosterone levels in men, which is necessary in cases of diabetes to help increase insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization. This, too, may need supplemental assistance.

Other potential side effects include a buildup of lactic acid levels in the blood (lactic acidosis), gastrointestinal discomfort, and a metallic taste disturbance.

Meeting Metformin

The Food and Drug Administration’s allowance of metformin for testing is the first anti-aging study ever approved. It is set to study 3,000 participants over 6 years to either validate or refute results from previous investigations including those conducted by Dr. Nir Barzilai at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR). We will have to wait to see the verdict on whether metformin can help extend the lifespan of those who take it. Does the drug prevent the development of age-related cognitive and cardiovascular diseases? Does it stop cancer before it even starts? We’re on the frontline of finding out if there truly is a cure to growing older. Stay tuned!

How to Live Forever: The Latest Longevity Science

Is there an answer yet for how to live forever? Discover whether genetic engineering can make your cells immortal, whether cryonics and cyber life are any closer to reality, and which human stem cells can actually repair the body. Learn about the latest advances in medicine and technology regarding human life extension and what the oldest living people eat to stay alive.

The average human lifespan gets longer every year as medicine and disease control advance. Not only that, but anti-aging support improves each year too, with today’s Hollywood stars looking younger in their 70s than stars in their 50s appeared in the Golden Age of film. As scientists and researchers work to reverse the aging process and extend life expectancy, the inevitable question becomes: how to live forever? Is it possible, is the science any closer, and does the human body/spirit have the ability to endure eternal life? Here’s a breakdown of the most current breakthroughs in longevity science.

Interest in Immortality

From vampiric legends of old to science fiction fantasies of the future, human interest in life extension stems from a love of life and good health that is often coupled with a fear of old age and death.

The aging process affects everyone differently and in a lot of ways it’s one thing that money can’t exempt you from: billionaires in Silicon Valley are just as susceptible to age-related diseases as remote farmers in Third-World nations. In just this last year the Guinness World Record committee confirmed Kane Tanaka of Fukuoka, Japan as the world’s oldest person at 116 years old at her time of death, discounting perhaps the previously believed lifespan of Jeanne Calment of Arles, France, who purportedly lived to be 122 years old. Still yet to be verified are the rumors that Sodimedjo of Indonesia may have lived to 146.

Rumors abound surrounding mortality, including that the average lifespan used to be more like 40 years of age instead of 80. That assumption is due to the keyword “average”—when infant mortality and death during childbirth were more common, the average human lifespan was lower, and yet otherwise healthy people who lived to adulthood also lived into their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, just as we modern humans do with enough good health and good fortune.

So: once we dispel legend and myth, what can we mere mortals do to actually live forever?

How to Live Forever: Advances In Longevity Science

How to Live Forever: Advances in Longevity Science

Here are the top areas of scientific exploration into human life extension and the real quest for immortality.

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering is the manipulation of DNA molecules to modify a living organism. This includes genetically modifying foods and crops, like GMO bananas that have been successfully bred to be larger fruits with smaller seeds, more disease-resistant, and higher in vitamin A. Biofortified foods exist with carrots, onions, rice, and more, but these same genetic manipulations can apply to humans too.

Genetic instability is one of the primary causes of human aging. Specifically, our DNA replicates in order to sustain life, but begins to slow and break down as we age, bringing on cellular senescence, a state in which our cells stop replicating and our bodies age and begin to fail.

Clinical trials using telomere manipulation may be one avenue to human longevity. Telomeres cap and protect our DNA strands, but they shrink with every cell copy made until the cells cease to replicate. This is true for human cells but not cancer cells, which are effectively immortal perhaps due to a telomerase enzyme that extends the length of telomeres, thereby extending cell replicating power indefinitely. Should this vein of research prove safe and fruitful, human beings could live longer than nature ever intended.

Cryonics and Cyber Bodies

While it’s still somewhat in the realm of science fiction, cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of human beings who cannot be saved with today’s medicine but may someday survive into a future that can cure them.

The technology is close, however, as scientists have the ability right now to freeze human eggs, thaw them out, and successfully fertilize and transplant them into a uterus for a healthy human birth.

The justification for cryonic technology is that cryopreservation could help lengthen the time between when a severely sick or injured person is legally dead and when they can still be brought back to life with resuscitation. Whether that technology could be used in a short-term emergency situation to suspend an unstable patient long enough for transport to the necessary facility, or long term enough to reanimate the human brain 100 years into the future is all speculation for now. Until it works for the first time, we won’t know if it’s even possible to suspend the complex life of a fully formed human body without doing irrecoverable damage.

That being said, if it’s ever possible to prevent the medical consequences of what is essentially cellular freezer burn, suspending the body until technology (if not medicine) advances enough to allow the human consciousness to fuse with indefinitely sustainable machines could be another avenue to immortality. Does this mean a Battlestar Galactica-style cyber race of beings? Well…sort of.

One way to achieve this (in theory) would be to replace failing human organs with robotic body parts until, essentially, the only organ we need to keep alive is the human brain inside of a robotic shell. This isn’t mere science fiction. It stems from the very real technology that is high-grade prosthetic limbs and implanted medical technology such as pacemakers.

Another potential way is downloading your brain into an android: your human brain still dies, but the network of your consciousness lives on.

A third way is straight out of an episode of Black Mirror: all human consciousness forgoes reality and instead enters virtual reality. It may sound ridiculous now, but so did space travel at one time, so depending on how you define immortality, this could be the ticket.

Stem Cells and Natural Life Support

As far as how to extend human life in human bodies, people are trying to transfuse life almost literally vampirically: by injecting the blood of young people into older adults to gain the benefits of (among other factors) their youthful stem cells.

In the same manner, harvesting one’s own stem cells and artificially growing them for reinjection is another avenue for organic body part replacement, cell by cell. Just as with shortening telomeres, as we age our natural stem cell production slows until it stops. Finding a way to boost the production of these cells or to get an infusion of new ones could serve to replace the damaged parts of organs such as the heart that otherwise cannot heal or regenerate.

Some stem cells like those that are banked in cord blood are almost like blank checks. These cells can adapt where they’re needed to become specific cells in the body, and treat or potentially cure certain chronic conditions like blood diseases. The benefit is that this is a natural way to extend human life without ethical drawbacks: umbilical cord blood from healthy human births can be obtained safely and used to potentially stave off the aging process longer than ever before.

Amino Acids for Advanced Age

Beyond futuristic science that isn’t quite here yet, extending human life into the triple digits is possible right now because it’s been done before. Combinations of genetic luck and sound health practices, including diet, lead to some of the longest lives possible.

A review of what some of the oldest surviving humans eat each day includes amino acid-rich foods like eggs, fish, bacon, and chicken, plus other nutritionally dense whole foods like oats, sweet potatoes, and olive oil. Tea and wine make the list too, possibly thanks to the polyphenol compounds in beverages like green tea that contribute to a reverse-aging diet.

Forever Young

The answer to how to live forever isn’t definitive yet, but how to live longer and better without the loss of vigor that too many people experience with old age is constantly under investigation. To seek immortality, science first explores the nature of mortality to reveal findings that could lead to everlasting life.